Mother Tongue Essay

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Amy Tan’s “Mother Tongue” Summary In the essay “Mother Tongue” By Amy Tan she points out that we are often labeled and categorized by the way we speak. Tan notices how we unintentionally tend to use different Englishes when around different types of people. She tells how she was giving a talk, a talk she had already given to half a dozen other groups the only difference this time was her mother was in the audience. This was the first time she became aware that she uses different englishes. Tan explains that language in immigrant families tends to have a greater role in shaping the language of the child, and how it can limit the possibilities available to them. She believes that the broken English that was spoken in her home had an effect on her school work and test scores. Even though her English was not poor, her scores in math and science tended to much higher. As a writer Tan frequently gets asked “why is there not more Asian-Americans represented in American Literature?” Tan notices as a whole Asian students do better in math and sciences than in English which makes her wonder if other Asian-Americans grew up in a home where the English that was spoken might be considered “broken” or “limited”. When Tan first started writing fiction she thought writing using wittily crafted sentences would show how well she had mastered English. Eventually she realized that when writing that you should envision what type of person is going to be reading your stories, and since Tan was writing about mothers she envisioned her own mother. This when she started writing stories using all the englishes she had grown up

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